With the majority of COVID-19 related mandates in schools, including adult masking, student cohorts and indoor gathering limits being lifted Tuesday, the chair of the Grande Prairie Public School Division believe they’re on track to make the transition back to a more normal school experience.
Chair Joan Nellis says while the students have been able to unmask for the last little while there is still a population that continues to wear a face covering. She believes staff and administration will likely follow the same path.
“I think we are going to see a similar reaction from our teachers, we will have some who will be relieved not to have to wear it, and some who will probably continue to support that as their ways of mitigating their risk,” she says.
Nellis says the preparation and planning learned over the last two years remains an interesting conversation for the board, with a lot of trial and error used to see what modifications worked well, and what didn’t. She says the experience thus far has helped better prepare them for any sudden changes that may be needed going forward.
She adds while different levels of comfort will exist when it comes to a lack of masks, she believes that a good cross-section of parents across the division are at least looking forward to some semblance of normalcy when it comes to not only in the classroom behavior but extracurricular activities.
“I know some of the things we are looking forward to, as a parent, even, is going to watch our kids play sports… there are a lot of people in the community happy to see that, our kids are happy to have a little more freedom,” she adds.
Peace Wapiti Public School Superintendent Bob Stewart says for that division, in addition to the controls they continue to have in place, they’re asking parents to keep monitoring their children for symptoms, and not send them to school if they have COVID-19 symptoms that cannot be attributed to pre-existing conditions such as seasonal allergies.
He adds many schools continue to have a supply of COVID-19 rapid test kits available, and families are encouraged to call their school if they would like to access a kit while supplies last.
On Saturday, Premier Jason Kenney announced the province is moving into Step 2 with confidence. Step 2 of the province’s reopening plan lifting any remaining COVID-19 school requirements, the youth screening activities for entertainment and sports activities, the capacity on all large venues and entertainment venues, indoor and outdoor social gathering limits.